The aftermath of colonization still reverberates up to this day and the situation continues to get dire for those who seem to be held down in the womb of poverty.
Julius Malema, the leader of the South African opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters has one clear message which is to “Get The Land Back” . His message on land confiscation without compensation is one that must resonate throughout the whole globe. When it comes to possession of lands, black people are still relegated.
The message that Malema propagates is one that threatens the elite who own the means of production. It is a message that seeks to power to where its original domain. Malema’s argument is not to digest, the colonizers came to Africa and turned us against each other. They murdered, rape us and took our land by force and effectively dispossessed.
Malema believes that there is no need to have negotiations with the Europeans regarding land because in the beginning they did not have negotiations when they hijacked the land by brute force, by committing heinous atrocities against Africans.
Kenya is a vivid example where land imbalances still persist. British colonization disrupted the African land pattern usage and replaced it with a Western-based economic style that meant that large tracts of land had to be alienated for Europeans to settle. This resulted in the establishment of Native Reserves; areas that were characterized by aridity and less production. It brought an end to Kenya’s land abundance and competition for land ensued.
Thereafter, the colonial legal system in Kenya superimposed restrictions on local communities. With a colonial capitalist economy, most Kenyans in no time found themselves looking for low pay jobs in towns on European farms as well as laboring in industries. They live on low wages with high cost of living and huge taxes wiping out the cash before the day is over. What the imposition means to Kenyans is that the land was only accessible to those who had wealth and power; instead being a traditional right. And such colonial legacies are still palpable today. Moreover, it was the issue of land that was at the center of the Mau Mau rebellion, which ultimately led to the independence of Kenya in 1963.
Although post-independence efforts resulted in land redistribution. At that time, almost 3000 white farmers decided to leave Kenya and this land was distributed to landless Kenyans. However, the prevailing reality was that lands were concentrated in the hands of the Kenyan elite. They obtained lots of land, small as they were, from the departing settlers. This allowed inequalities to expand as the population expanded. The politically connected, gained the most productive land for themselves, perpetuating the inequalities orchestrated by the colonizers. Efforts to amend these problems have been in vain, but there is a need for more energy so that land becomes a resource accessible to many.
The time of awakening for African leaders to take decisive action when it comes to land is now. For instance, Zimbabwe produces a bittersweet example of land redistribution. The only problem with land redistribution in Zimbabwe is that it was done in a chaotic, haphazard and shoddy manner such that those who grabbed several farms left it untouched. The Zimbabwe government has been dilly-dallying with the issue of compensating white farmers, a move that does build confidence in the minds of black people since this land was taken from them by the sheer use of force.
Malema is an unflattering man in times of issue of land, and that for true economic independence to be there, black people need to be given access to land. They need access to the agricultural produce, minerals and timber. As long as African leaders are not on their feet to implement land redistribution programs in a way beneficial to every Africans, moving forward with genuine economic independence becomes an toilsome exercise. Justice is there if the land is restored to where it originally source.